One In Eight Halton Seniors Live In Poverty

Retirement is not the golden age for many seniors, writes Sabihuddin.

Do you know Mrs. Jackson? She is an 86-year-old widow, living alone in a downtown area rental apartment. She has minimal income derived from Old Age Security (OAS) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and relies on a local food bank to supplement her weekly meals.

Mrs. Jackson struggles to pay her monthly utility bills, especially in the summer and winter months. She does not have access to a vehicle and depends on community volunteers to take her to free programming for seniors in her community.

Everyone gets older and unanticipated life changes can happen. Our population continues to age rapidly and many seniors face financial challenges as they age in our community. Seniors in Halton make up 27 per cent of the region’s overall population. One in eight of these seniors live in poverty.

There is a long held assumption that all seniors in Halton are financially comfortable, however, seniors living in Halton often struggle with precarious employment, lack of health and pension plans, inflated housing costs and expensive food options. Many seniors over the age of 65 are forced to take on paid work in grocery, hardware and fast food locations. For them, retirement is simply not an optiion

It should come as no surprise that many free community meals provided by local faith and community groups are consistently provided to Halton seniors. It is also quite clear that Halton seniors comprise a growing number of food bank users, representing 17 per cent of all food bank clients.

Locally, the average monthly rent is $1,405 making living on a fixed income challenging. Since one in five of our senior neighbours live alone, housing can quickly become unaffordable. The combination of being in poverty and living alone sets the stage for social, emotional and psychological isolation which will, overtime, have negative effects on overall well-being and life expectancy.

If we are to have legitimate pride in Halton Region being one of the top places to live in Ontario, it must equally apply to low-income residents, including our seniors, now and in the future. Retirement is not the golden age for many of our seniors.

If you, or someone you know, wants to become involved in achieving our vision of No Neighbour in Need follow us on on Twitter @HaltonPovertyRT.

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